More than two decades since their original formation, Eyehategod have endured a tumultuous career, rising above personal and professional conflicts and life-altering setbacks. All the while, they continued to create their unique blend of caustic metal, a sound they pioneered upon inception and have since perfected through their illustrious recordings.

Bassist Gary Mader joined the fold in 2005, the same year the band transitioned from their home at Century Media and singer Mike Williams kicked his legendary heroin habit.  Ten years after their last release, Eyehategod look toward the future with an upcoming headlining run and a new CD in the works.

I had the chance to speak with Mader while on a shortened stint of downtime prior to the band’s US tour.  We discussed his history with the band, their multitude of side-projects and musical endeavors, and why now is finally the right time for a new era of Eyehategod.

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Eyehategod formed back in 1988, more than a decade before you actually joined the band. Given the fact that you were originally on the outside looking in, what was your impression of the band before you joined?

From the time that the band started, and I remember seeing what was probably one of their first shows, I’ve always been a fan of the music.

Around here at that time, everybody was doing hardcore bands or thrash, and everything was just really fast.  So when they first came out, I just thought it was the perfect mix of hostility and hardcore noise, and from that time, I was a fan.  I probably missed maybe two shows up until the time I joined the band.

And when I was asked to play with the band, I was more than excited.

And how did that actually come about?  How did you officially become part the band?

I’ve been friends with everybody from back then, so we all knew each other.  And me and Mike were starting a side project that was going to be more punk rock oriented, that was more influenced by bands like Poison Idea or Electric Frankenstein—something that was different from most of the bands that we played in.

Also around that time, I had started playing bass again.  I’ve played guitar for a long time—bass is what I started with, and then I went to guitar—and when I started playing bass again, at that time, they had just lost Danny Nick, who was their bass player before I was in the band.  So they needed a bass player, and while Mike and I were talking about doing this side project, he talked about maybe me playing with Eyehategod.  So from there, I was like, “Well, hell yeah!”

It seems that members of the New Orleans scene are some of the busiest guys in metal, with so many musicians playing in multiple touring bands, and even holding down day jobs as well.  With that being said, what’s the status of your side projects, and how is Eyehategod able to juggle everyone’s schedules?

That’s probably the thing that keeps us from being as productive, or as fast with putting out a new record.  We have so many different bands, and the way that we deal with it is just that there’s a lot of time in the year to get around.  Right now, we’re doing Eyehategod, so we’re all focused on writing the new record and doing our tour and everything.  For now, Down‘s not doing anything, Outlaw Order isn’t doing anything, Solient Green isn’t doing anything; we’re all focused on Eyehategod right now.

Seven months from now, things may change, and it might be time to do Outlaw Order again.  It is difficult to juggle all the bands, and sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough time, but we all manage to make it work.  That’s how it’s always been, you know.

I play in four bands, Jimmy (Bower) plays in three and has all sorts of side projects, Brian (Patton) plays in Solient Green and Outlaw Order, and Joey (LaCaze) plays in Outlaw Order and Eyehategod, and then does a noise project called Hypothermic Stigmata on the side as well.

Is Eyehategod considered everyone’s main band, or is it also a side project for a lot of you guys?

Eyehategod is the main band, at least for me.  I consider it my top priority.  It’s the band that I love, and for us to move forward, I’ll dedicate whatever of my life to doing it.

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Confederacy of Ruined Lives came out in 2000.   I know that there have been a lot of setbacks, both for the band and for New Orleans as a whole, since that album’s release.  So ten years after Confederacy, and five years after Katrina, is it fair to say that Eyehategod is finally in a position to put out a new album?

Totally.  I can speak for everyone in saying that it’s our main priority right now.  We have fun playing all the old songs, and people love to hear them, but we feel like we’re getting annoyed with ourselves; we just keep playing these songs over and over again.  So we’ve kinda nudged ourselves into moving forward.  But, you know, it takes us forever to do anything.

Mike reportedly kicked his heroin habit back in 2005 while cooped up in the Morgan County Jail.  Considering that his unpredictability was often a big part of the show, what is the vibe like now that he’s in more of a stable mindset?

He’s still unpredictable! (laughs)  He doesn’t need anything to help him!  But it’s in a good way.

I think before I was in the band, it may have gotten in the way a little more.  But I think now—we’re all, not just Mike—we’re all in a better place, relatively speaking.

In The Name of Suffering and Take as Needed for Pain were just played in entirety earlier this month in Austin and are scheduled to be performed again at the end of June in Chicago.  Aside from these three shows, are there any plans to perform these albums on a full-scale run?

No, we just wanted to do it as a couple of special shows, not something that we do all the time.  It’s probably the most organized thing we’ve ever done—to play these two albums, in their entirety, in order, without leaving out any parts. (laughs)  It was a lot for us to do, because some of these songs hadn’t been played for the entire time that I’ve been in the band.

We wanted to do something special, and it started in Austin with the two record thing.  Since we’re doing two dates in Chicago, we decided we’d do it out there too, but just do one record per night and fill out the rest of the set with a mix of songs.

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How was Austin chosen as the original setting?

The times that we had played there before, one of the guys that we’re friends with that works at the club suggested we do it.  He thought it’d be cool to do kind of like a themed show like that, and it just kind of grew from there.

We were just doing Take as Needed for Pain originally, but then we decided to do the first two records to keep in theme with the show, rather than playing a record and saying, “OK, here are ten other songs.”  So that’s why we did it like that.

Considering your experience with audiences around the world, what are some of your favorite places to play, and what have been some of your most memorable shows with Eyehategod?

My third show with the band was in Tokyo, so that was amazing within itself.  Then we played Hellfest in France, and that was by far the biggest thing that I had ever played, and there were a lot of good bands there, too.

With our European tour, we just did Christiana in Denmark, which was memorable.  It was just such a unique setting.  We were playing in a squatter village, where there were no laws, per se.  So that was a lot of fun.  It was a wild show, and the people were really friendly.

But just about any place we play, I have fun.  I love to see things that I’ve never seen before.  I had never been to Germany, and I had never been to Switzerland, and all these cool places.  So along with having fun playing music, it’s fun to see different places and meet new people that are dedicated fans of ours.

What about in the States?

New York is always fun. It’s always a chaotic show, and we never don’t have fun in New York.  And Maryland’s always fun. Chicago’s great. There are always so many great cities to play.  I can say that about all of them.  We could be playing in Pineville, Louisiana, and I’d be excited! (laughs)

Eyehategod definitely helped pave the way for sludge metal and is often cited as an inspiration for bands all over the musical spectrum.  What bands do you look towards for musical inspiration?

I rely on a lot of older stuff.  When I first started playing music, the bands that I was into were like Cro-Mags, Cryptic Slaughter, Saint Vitus, Black Flag, Circle Jerks—a lot of hardcore.  So a lot of that’s inspirational for me.

Over the years, you can’t just listen to one kind of music, so I’ve picked up some other favorites that have nothing to do with the type of music we play.  I listen to a lot of delta blues, Robert Johnson, and of course, John Lee Hooker.  And then some jazz thrown in their for good measure. (laughs)

I’ll listen to just about anything, though.  I think that everything I listen to, I hear it in my head in a certain way, and it kind of influences the way that I write.

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The band has just announced a series of headlining shows in the US which are scheduled to kick off in June.  Other than that, what is the rest of the year looking like for Eyehategod?

The rest of this year we’re just going to take it easy so we can write our record.  It’s hard to stay on top of our set and try to write at the same time.  Plus we’ve done our share of touring for this year.  So the next important thing to do is the write our record, and then worry about touring next year.

Thanks again for taking the chance to put this interview together.  Is there anything you want to leave your fans with?

We love our fans from the bottom of our hearts, and thanks for supporting us along the way!

For more information on Eyehategod, check out:

www.eyehategod.com